Police try to solve the mystery behind the Fleets' suspicious deaths video

Raymond Fleet, left, and his nephew James both went missing from a Bay of Plenty township on Monday, August 7.
NZ POLICE

Raymond Fleet, left, and his nephew James both went missing from a Bay of Plenty township on Monday, August 7.

The township of Mamaku had about 690 residents at the most recent census.

Two of them - a man and his uncle - went missing on the same day. 

Ten days later, their bodies were found in the nearby Mamaku Forest.

STUFF

Police have cordoned off Cecil Road near Mamaku Forest after discovering two bodies, believed to be Raymond and James Flett.

About 30 police officers are working to fill in the gaps about what happened in that time - but also in the lead-up to the men's disappearance.

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Rotorua uncle and nephew now missing for over a week

A MAN AT THE DOOR

The men's bodies were found in the Mamaku Forest, and police set up a cordon on Cecil Road, nearby.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

The men's bodies were found in the Mamaku Forest, and police set up a cordon on Cecil Road, nearby.

It started with a man at the door of a home in Mamaku, west of Rotorua.

James Fleet went out to talk to the visitor around 6.30pm on Monday, August 7.

The 25-year-old didn't come back inside.

A lone, muddied boot could be seen by the edge of the road just inside the cordon.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

A lone, muddied boot could be seen by the edge of the road just inside the cordon.

Around the same time, his uncle, Raymond Fleet, 51, disappeared.

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The men left without their cars, family said, and James didn't take his shoes or his wallet either.

The next day, the men's family reported them missing and, about five days later, police put out descriptions through the media.

Armed police manned a cordon at Cecil Road, near Mamaku Forest, on Friday.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Armed police manned a cordon at Cecil Road, near Mamaku Forest, on Friday.

James was last seen in a dark hoodie and grey track pants, police said.

He had thick, wavy, dark brown hair that reached his shoulders.

Tattooed on his right arm were crossed rifles under a Cody's symbol, police said, and a "dragon-looking" tattoo which stretched down his right forearm to his hand.

The two men were from the Bay of Plenty township of Mamaku, west of Rotorua.
GOOGLE MAPS

The two men were from the Bay of Plenty township of Mamaku, west of Rotorua.

Raymond also had a tattoo, police said, of a bird, on his back.

A truck driver, Raymond sported a moustache and had short, brown hair.

WAITING FOR NEWS

The 30-odd police officers on the investigation team will work tirelessly to get answers for the whanau, Rotorua area ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

The 30-odd police officers on the investigation team will work tirelessly to get answers for the whanau, Rotorua area commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said in a Friday media conference.

"I feel like if they could have come home they would have," Bronwyn Fleet said, after the descriptions were released.

She's mother to James and a sister to Raymond.

It was unlike either of the men to be away so long without contacting anyone in the close-knit family, she said.

It was hard not knowing.

James had much-loved siblings, she said, and Ray was a father of two young boys.

Bronwyn also put out a heartbroken Facebook plea for information on where her son was, and it shows 3748 shares.

James is pictured in a sport singlet, looking over his shoulder towards the camera, and in his sunnies in front of a vista.

"Someone came to my mum's door in Mamaku on Monday night, James went out to talk to him and never came back," Bronwyn's post­­ says.

"We desperately want him home safe."

There are just over 100 messages of support on the original post.

SUSPICIOUS DISAPPEARANCES

Just over a week after the men were last seen, police announced they were treating the disappearances as suspicious.

"Their family are distraught and do not have any reason to believe Raymond or James would willingly leave," a statement from Rotorua investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Van Kempen said.

There had been no communication from either man since they were last seen at home, and no sightings, Van Kempen said.

On Wednesday, police searched a house - opposite Mamaku School - where Ray's son lived, but they are not saying how or if the South Road house is linked to the investigation.

BODIES FOUND

On Thursday evening, the news was bad: police had found two bodies in the Mamaku Forest and believed they were James and Ray.

The deaths were being treated as suspicious.

Armed police set up a cordon on nearby Cecil Rd on Friday morning.

The road heads behind the township of Mamaku, into the ranges which divide the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Police tape was stretched across the dirt road and an armed officer stood watch beside patrol cars and a Ford Transit with tinted windows.

A lone, muddied boot could be seen by the edge of the road just inside the cordon.

The discovery of the bodies rocked local residents, gave them a bad feeling.

"I don't know how they ended up like that," one said.

Tributes to Ray and James started appearing on social media.

James' friends recalled how he'd helped them when they were sad or scared, and shared photos of friends getting together for a drink.

A givealittle page for the Fleet family had raised $1820 from 27 donors by 4pm on Friday.

"So many people are wanting to know what they can do to show their love and support for this grieving family and the wonderful men they have lost," creator Annie Frogley said.

"This is a way that people can help in a practical way to help with the costs that will need to be taken care of at a sad time like this."

QUESTIONS REMAIN

While the men's bodies have been found, the whanau are still waiting for answers.

The 30-odd police officers on the investigation team would work tirelessly to get those, Rotorua area commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said in a Friday media conference.

"This is a family's worst nightmare," he said.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes."

Police need to piece the together what happened in the lead-up to the men's disappearance, he said.

They especially want to hear from anyone who saw Ray or James between August 4 and 9.

But Pewhairangi wasn't giving more details, saying it was too early in the investigation.

He declined to answer questions about injuries the men had suffered, and said police wouldn't rule anything in or out of the investigation when asked if drugs or gangs were believed to be involved.  

"If there's any risk to the wider community, we will certainly communicate that," he said.

 - Stuff

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